The tale of two Perth mermaids might sound far-fetched but it’s certainly not untrue.
For the last few years Mermaids Jessica Bell and Amelia Lassetter have become a popular ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ attraction on West Australian beaches.
The former art students like to surprise unsuspecting members of the public with their realistic interpretation of the legendary marine creature.
They can often be found sunning themselves at local tourists spots, wearing highly realistic and visually stunning tails.
“They’re not a toy, they’re a piece of art that you can wear,” Mermaid Amelia told Yahoo7.
“They weigh about 15kg each and squeeze your body into an awkward position which can be a bit painful… but once you are in the water they’re amazing,” Mermaid Jess said.
The fins used on Jess and Amelia’s tails are the same that are used in Olympic diving and moving about in them is physically demanding.
“We’re both big water babies anyway, but we have done dive training since we got the tails,” Mermaid Jess said.
“You’ve got to have a lot of experience in the water, be a really strong swimmer and know how to hold your breath… it takes a lot more stamina than most people realise.
“We do a lot of underwater work with photos and underwater performances… We both love being in the ocean, I feel really peaceful when I’m under the water”.
While both Jess and Amelia now have made solid investments in their tails, in the early days they were all handmade.
“We never actually intended it to be a business… at first it was just a hobby for us,” Mermaid Amelia said.
“Jess and I met at uni doing visual arts, she was interested in underwater photography and used to photograph me.
“It didn’t take long for us to start experimenting with fabrics”.
As for the tails they have now, the pair used crowdfunding and their mermaid appearances to raise enough money for them.
“We gave people artwork if they donated towards the new tails and also gave appearances in exchange,” Mermaid Jess said.
“We always thought we’d never be able to afford something like this but we knew it was worth while”.
The eye catching tails made by Fin Folk Production, use colours that symbolise different sea life.
It’s been four years since the mermaids started appearing on our beaches.
Mermaid Amelia, 29, is now also a full-time mer-mum to twins and Mermaid Jess works at a local theatre.
On top of the mermaid life, they’re also working on a children’s book based around the popular legend.
And while they’re enjoying the mer-life, both said they never expected their magical personas to take off.
“It snowballed, we never had any intention for it to become what it has… for us it was just a bit of fun,” Mermaid Amelia said.
“But people loved it and the response has been amazing”.
The mermaids now perform at parties, festivals and private events on top of their beach days.
They’ve had to stop announcing beach appearances due to the volume of people that show up just to see them.
“When we first started it wasn’t anything like it is now, we would just go down to the beach and put on Facebook ‘if anyone wants to see a mermaid this is where we will be’.” Mermaid Amelia said.
“It got crazy to the point where a few hundred people turned up… We can’t do it that way anymore, now we still go down to the beach but we don’t tell anyone”.
The surprise factor seems to be working well for the mermaids though.
“It’s like the experience of seeing a dolphin or whale at the beach for people,” Mermaid Jess said.
“You get the experience of seeing a very realistic mermaid. Some people genuinely think we are real.
“We like to be sneaky and pop up and say ‘hi’”.
Despite the joy the mermaids get out of giving people a chance to see them, they didn’t think it was something they could do as a full-time career.
“We have ideas for the future but I don’t think we could do it full-time,” Mermaid Amelia said.
With that said if you’re walking along West Australian beaches you may want to keep your eyes peeled just in case you do spot a real-life Ariel while they’re still around.
For more information on Perth Mermaids check out their Facebook.